Business & Health with Zaniya Botanicals
In this episode of Food Revolution, SFSI Director Matte Wilson chats with Garrett Waln, owner of Zaniya Botanicals. Zaniya Botanicals was launched after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, and over the past seven months, Garrett has refined his craft and expanded his business. This past summer, he sold bath bombs and sugar scrubs at the Sicangu Harvest Market, and also sells via Facebook. Garrett shares with us the origin story of his business, his plans for the future, and provides insight from his experience running a small business on the Rosebud Reservation.
Full transcription & show notes available here.
Enjoy listening to Food Revolution? Consider donating to the Sicangu Food Sovereignty Initiative to help us in our mission to build food sovereignty and a local foods economy to empower our tribal community through food! Donations are 501(c)3 tax deductible.
(Intro) Hau Mitakuyapi, and welcome to Food Revolution, brought to you by the Sicangu Food Sovereignty Initiative. Every other week, we'll be bringing you stories of food sovereignty from community members and tribal food producers working to build a more just, equitable, and regenerative food system for our Sicangu Lakota Oyate - the Burnt Thigh Nation. Together, we're building tribal sovereignty through food, and we've set a place at the table just for you. Join us and be part of the Food Revolution.
Matte (00:00:29) Hi, this is Matte with the Food Sovereignty Initiative. I'm here with Garrett Waln, owner of Zaniya Botanicals. Yeah, we'll get, let's get into it. All right, Garrett, can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your background? Where are you from?
Garrett (00:00:41) I'm from Arizona, and my background be best described as Jack-of-all trades, master of none. I've done nearly everything. Basically, anytime anybody needed help, they'd know call Garrett. I’ve even got an IT background.
Matte (00:00:56) How and why did you start your business? How long have you been in business and how has your business changed over time?
Garrett (00:01:03) I started basically as soon as COVID happened. My mom started doing bath bombs and she just was doing it to have fun with it. And I'm like, Oh, I think that looks interesting. And we were stuck at home for two weeks, so I'm like teach me. And then it just basically started snowballing. After so long, we had the bath bombs basically down pat. So I decided to start doing sugar scrubs. After a few months of research, I was able to figure those out. I think I went through about eight batches of sugar scrubs, which is a lot of sugar wasted, but I eventually got that one figured out and now those are taking off and now I'm trying a new soap blend offer.
Matte (00:01:59) That's awesome. What's your favorite scent that you make?
Garrett (00:02:01) There's one called dragon's blood, but that one is by far my most popular, followed closely by rose and eucalyptus. But I have other scents, like lavender, sage.
Matte (00:02:12) Based on your experience, what challenges do you think producers and vendors face when selling food or other items here on the reservation?
Garrett (00:02:22) On the reservation specifically? I think the biggest hurdle is Facebook is your best way to market yourself. There are not that many stores to try to sell to. Meanwhile, other places like the cities, I was actively talking to nail salons and other smaller spas, and I was, hey, what do you want? And the bath bombs, those clients alone probably would have been at least 20 sales a day. Probably would have been only a dollar a sale, but that's still 20 sales. But that kind of market just doesn't exist here.
Matte (00:03:01) What are your thoughts on a online marketplace or online sales platform?
Garrett (00:03:07) That would be absolutely brilliant because that's basically what Facebook is, but there's just so much information on Facebook to compete with. If there's a website specifically dedicated to sales and what products everybody here has, I think that would just help local businesses out a lot.
Matte (00:03:27) Hmm. For sure. What would you say your demographics is for your products?
Garrett (00:03:34) For the bath bombs, I get a lot of children who like them. They just like them for the pretty colors, but the adults like them too, because at the same time, they have a lot of qualities that are good for your skin. I use Epsom salts, I use, uh, body butters, oils, and all of that melts into your skin and it's just feels really nice getting out of them. And with sugar scrubs, I got two guys that liked them because they like to work in, uh, as mechanics. Yeah. And it helps get off all the oils cause, but at the same time, your average person would like it because they can use the sugar scrub to, I use it on my face, a lot to wash my face and you can use them on your whole body. It's not harmful or anything, but don't eat them. These are oils that you don't want to eat.
Matte (00:04:32) So I see that you had the names Zaniya in your business name and associated in the cleaning business as well. Where does the name Zaniya come from?
Garrett (00:04:43) Zaniya is Lakota for healthy living.
Matte (00:04:47) Okay. Awesome. Good to know. So where can people find your products at?
Garret (00:04:54) Yeah. I have a Facebook page, Zaniya Bath Bombs and Sugar Scrubs. And that's the best place to find them. I’m working on a website.
Matte (00:05:05) So the best way to contact you is by your Facebook then?
Matte: Cool. What are your plans for the future of your business?
Garrett (00:05:11) I'm trying to come up with a lot of different products. I want to eventually have a whole line of like, say you just liked the sense of rose. If you wanted a rose package, it can just be one gift bundle.
Matte (00:05:26) Yeah. So you said that most of your sales are kind of an online, are there any stores you would like to see your products in one day?
Garrett (00:05:33) I brought it up earlier about the, what are they, the nail salons and all that. If there were more nail salons out here, I think that would be a really good, great place to market because otherwise there is just a local market.
Matte (00:05:47) So we see you and other vendors at a farmer's market. Um, and apart from your botanicals, we also see you doing food sales. Tell us a little bit about that.
Garrett (00:05:58) I partner with Franky Young, he owns Keya Prepz. Our first thoughts with that, were he only had meal preps, which are pre-prepared meals that are all portioned out. They have a specific number of calories, a specific protein, specific carbs, specific everything. He calculates everything out and they taste great. He just had a bunch of boxes to stack up and I only had a bunch of little cylinders to stack up. So it doesn't attract as much attention just sitting there waiting for somebody to come to you. So we were thinking, what can we do to make it look like we're busy? Cause if you look like you're busy, people want to see what's going on. At first, we started off with, uh, doing brats and hamburgers or brats and hotdogs. That initially went well and we made some decent money off of that. And it did a great job of attracting attention to both of our other businesses.
(00:07:04) He sold out with all of his meal preps the first day and I keep such a large stock, it’s hard for me to sell out, but I still made a decent amount of sales. So we both enjoyed that. But then the next week we changed it to quesadillas and that's when that started taking off. So we ended up selling out completely of the quesadillas. And I wasn't able to focus on selling any of our other products that hard. So after a while it just started snowballing. And now every single week, we have to think of something new. We don't want to just keep selling the same thing over and over again because that's just boring. So last week we did street tacos, the week before we did Swiss steaks. And now next week we're working on what we're going to do next.
Matte (00:08:02) I know I really liked your guys's, um, street tacos. They were really good. And also we liked your quesadillas and your elotes, they were really good.
Garrett (00:08:12) Yeah. We want to bring the elotes back. Every single week we've done that, that one has been selling out, but this past week we can't find corn. You need corn on the cob in order to do it right. So we couldn't do it this week. And that made us sad. Yeah. So we're going to hunt for some more corn on the cob and we're going to bring elotes.
Matte (00:08:32) Cool. Yeah, it's getting a little bit late into the season, so yeah, it might be a little bit difficult to find, but yeah, it was pretty popular. And those of you at home don't know who, um, don't know what elotes are. It’s Mexican street corn, it's grilled and then it's covered in - Garrett can tell you the rest.
Garrett (00:08:48) All right, so we have a special blend of mayonnaise and some seasonings, Mesican mayonnaise. And whenever you apply the mayonnaise, you take the elotes you coated it in cheese after the mayonnaise, and then put a little bit of a tajin pepper on it. And they're pretty good.
Matte (00:09:06) Cool. Two more questions. Next one is, what is your vision for a food revolution for the Sicangu Lakota Oyate?
Garret (00:09:15) A food revolution.
Matte (00:09:17) What does that mean to you? What does that sound like to you?
Garrett (00:09:20) My first immediate thought is a bunch of food walking around in rows like revolutionaries. Uh, but yeah, my first thought was... we're making new types of corns, check out this corn, it can produce twice as much.
Matte (00:09:45) There you go.
Garrett (00:09:46) Yeah. If there were a bunch of food stands, that actually would be really nice because I always see who is it? Uh, Billie and Butch Arthichoker. They're always… once a week and they have their breakfast burritos there.
Speaker 1 00:10:04 Yeah. Their burritos are really good. I especially like Butch’s hot sauce.
Garrett (00:10:11) Yeah. Well, yeah. Definitely the reservation could definitely use some more accessible food, cause I know there are even times where I'm like, I don't want to cook right now. I have to go to the gas station and get some of their pre-cooked food and it tastes good, it just makes me question.
Matte (00:10:32) Yeah, definitely. Definitely. Um, so last question would be, what is one last piece of advice you'd offer to people looking to start a business? Either in general or like here on Rosebud.
Garrett: Just do it. There's one saying that I heard a while ago and it, anytime I'm like, I don't want to do this. There's this step, this step, this step, and this step. The saying goes, a plane is easier to steer in the air than on the ground. So what that basically means is as soon as you start, that's when you're going to be able to adjust everything, if you just go, you're going to make some mistakes, deal with it. And as soon as you deal with that mistake, you learn something you're going to do it better. Next time. Like I would use my sugar scrubs for an example, it took me three months to get them right. I would not sell those sugar scrubs until I got them to the right consistency that I want it to be, a point where they would be helpful. But you just have to know when you don't want to sell something. Like I can pump out a batch an hour now because I did my research. I learned from mistakes and I made a product that I’m proud of.
Matte (00:11:55) Awesome. Cool. Well, thank you so much, Garrett, for coming in today. This is Garrett Waln with Zaniya Botanicals. So thank you so much, Garrett. Alright. That was it. Have a good day, everybody. Thanks for tuning into the Food Revolution. This is Matte Wilson from the Food Sovereignty Initiative.
(Outro) You've been listening to Food Revolution with the Sicangu Food Sovereignty Initiative. Don't forget to follow us on Facebook at Sicangu Community Development Corporation, Instagram @sicangucdc, and check out our website at www.sicangucdc.org, where we post weekly blog post on Wednesday mornings. Thanks for tuning in and we'll catch you next time in two weeks!
Host: Matthew Wilson
Produced & edited by: Mairi Creedon
Brought to you by Sicangu Food Sovereignty Initiative of Food Revolution